Half a day in Surrey
There is such a lot to do in Surrey you could spend a long weekend or a week exploring and experiencing the county. However the reality may be that you only have half a day with us. To help, here are some ideas of what you could do in 4 hours. The following ideas are on the assumption that you have access to a car.
Option 1 – Town and Country
Idea A - The beautiful National Trust property Winkworth Arboretum is a stunning in the autumn as the carefully selected trees and shrubs have been planted for an autumnal show. As a smaller property, you can enjoy a 1.5 to 2 hour walk around the garden which includes a lake, picturesque boat house and woodlands.
After your walk, the near-by town of Godalming is a great place to visit for lunch or coffee. With a historic high street featuring a good mix of shops, it also offers pubs, cafes and restaurants. A typical example of the towns across Surrey, it’s a good way to get a feel for the county.
Idea B – Boxhill and Dorking. The famous Boxhill just outside the town of Dorking, offers spectacular views across Surrey and beyond. For the fit and adventurous, you can start at the bottom of the hill and go across the river Mole via the ‘Stepping Stones’ – mind your step otherwise you’ll have an early bath! Before climbing the steps all the way to the top. Alternatively you can drive up the ‘ZigZag’ to park at the top before seeing the view point. After discovering Boxhill, the town of Dorking is only a 5 minute drive and contains a selection of shops, pubs and restuarants.
Option 2 – History
Idea A - There is a huge range of history across the county, from the location of the sealing of Magna Carta in Runnymede to the Gunpowder Mills at Chilworth, to Hampton Court Palace or Polesden Lacey. The site of the sealing of Magna Carta has been left as open water meadows next to the River Thames. You can walk through the meadows to the memorial, and then explore further to the WWWII Commonwealth Memorial, or perhaps take a river trip on a French Brothers boat to get a different perspective. The 4 star Runnymede-on-thames Hotel is just down the road, so is at an ideal distance to stop off for lunch or drinks.
Idea B - The Gunpowder Mills at Chilworth are a hidden gem. Recently been given some heritge lottery funding to be saved from the encroaching countryside, it currently has an air of romance as the buildings and features have been invaded by the surrounding Surrey Hills. Once one of the largest Gunpowder mills in the country, the Mills started in the late 16th century and were at their largest in the 19th century. The Mills closed in the 20th century, and are now a scheduled ancient monument. You’ll need a pair of boots if it’s raining or at least a pair of trainers, but it’s a pretty walk through the ruins and long the edge of the Tillingbourne River. Near-by is the pub the Chilworth Arms, or if you would like to drive a bit further (about 3 miles) is the very picturesque village of Albury. Here you will notice that many of the houses are painted with dark green windows. The Albury Estate is owned by the Duke of Northumberland and the estate owns many of the houses in the village.
Idea C – if you love historic house, we don’t need to say any more than Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII’s favourite home, but it’s so large you might need a day there! Alternatively spend a few hours exploring the gardens, and the magnificent maze and make plans to come back and visit the Palace another day. Polesden Lacey is a wonderful house, not far from Dorking. An Edwardian house set in the wider Surrey Hills with surrounding rose gardens and long walks. You can discover the house, explore the gardens and have time for lunch.
Option 3 – Sport
Idea A – Guildford Lido is one of only a handful of original 1930’s open air swimming pools. An Olympic sized heated pool is surrounded by landscape gardens and is open throughout the summer. On a hot summers day, it’s a great place to bring a picnic, a book and of course the kids! You can spend a few hours relaxing and un-winding from everyday life.
Idea B – Across the road from Guildford Lido is Guildford Spectrum one of the largest sports and leisure centres in the south-east. In addition to usual sporting facilities, it offers a running track, an ice-rink and bowling alley. For brand new facilities, Surrey’s recently opened Tadworth Leisure Centre only opened in autumn 2015 and offers new gym, racquet ball sports hall and swimming pool.
Idea C – if watching sport is more your thing then you can see the Surrey Scorchers basket-ball team or the Surrey Smashers badminton team, who regularly play home games against teams from across the country here at their home of Surrey Sports Park.
Option 4 – Art and Culture
Idea A - The Lightbox is Surrey’s premier art exhibition space. Receiving incoming exhibitions across all art forms from across the world, it houses both long-term and short term exhibitions. With most of the exhibitions free of charge to visit, it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours. About a 30 minute drive away is then Watts Gallery, just south of Guildford. Home to the internationally famous Victorian artist, GF Watts, who purpose built Watts gallery. With great tea shop, its worth a visit just on its own!
Idea B – Perhaps its only an evening you have in Surrey? If so, there are a number of great theatres to visit. From the Harlequin Theatre in Redhill, Epsom Playhouse in Epsom, Camberley Theatre and the large New Victoria Theatre in Woking. All offer a great range of theatre, from west-end productions to smaller productions, as well as comedy nights and musical performances.
Option 5 – Be pampered
Surrey has a number of luxurious spas for everyone to enjoy. From the 5 star Pennyhill Park hotel spa, to the unique Brookland Hotel spa who’s Jacuzzi over-looks the neighbouring race-track of Mercedes Benz World, through to the real treat of Grayshott Spa whose treatments and food are sure to relax and re-vitalise any visitor.